A REAL PHOBIA

Voice criticism of accepted verities and you encounter a tsunami of accusation. Every conceivable ‘ism’ or ‘phobia’ will be levelled. This is of course nonsense. The great majority of those who question what is happening in the world are not particularly given to any political ideology or perverted social view, they are just ordinary people wondering what is going on in a sometimes crazy world. There is, however, a phobia behind all the phobias.

phobias-banner-zafirides2

Take the ever reliable accusation of Islamophobia. In 2000 Massoud Sahdjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission claimed: ‘Muslims in Britain face the same fate this century as Jews in Europe in the last.’ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the Independent’s consistently wrongheaded commentator, writing shortly after 9/11 claimed: ‘We brace ourselves again for a period of bile and beatings and hate mail… Islamophobia will once more erupt worldwide and be legitimised by some political leaders. It is okay to hate a Muslim again.’ Salma Yaqoob writing in the Guardian in 2006 stated: ‘[Muslims in Britain] are subject to attacks reminiscent of the gathering storm of anti-Semitism in the first decades of the last century.’

It is not just self appointed spokespeople for a fragmented Muslim community. After every Muslim terrorist attack politicians, commentators and supposed community leaders have elbowed each other out of the way to warn of an imminent surge in anti-Muslim attacks. And yet, these surges never occur.

A few months after 9/11London Metropolitan Police reported: ‘There isn’t really evidence of an increase (in assaults against Muslims).’ In the year after the 7/7 bombings, The Crown Prosecution Service revealed that, out of the 43 cases of religiously aggravated crime, just 18 of them were against Muslims (or ‘perceived’ Muslims) – a decline from 23 anti-Muslim crimes in 2004-2005.

Last week Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) reported a ‘surge’ in anti-Muslim feeling over the past year, citing 734 ‘Islamophobic incidents’ between May 2013 and February 2014. The media seized on this as portraying evidence of an ever rising current of Islamophobia in Britain.

Tell MAMA, however, have previous. Following Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder they claimed there had been over 200 ‘Islamophic incidents’. Tell MAMA’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, told the BBC at the time. ‘The scale of the backlash is astounding.’ It emerged that several reports were unverified, the vast majority of the incidents were postings on social media and no one involved in a real world attack required medical attention. There was routinely more physical violence after an Old Firm football match in Glasgow.

This time, as before, the overwhelming majority of incidents (599) consisted of online abuse, and the real-world incidents were mainly verbal abuse plus the rarer cases of Muslim women having their veils lifted. Unpleasant undoubtedly, but a long way from what Jews faced in europe last century, and from Muslims today. Their proven record of exaggeration did not stop the BBC from interviewing Tell MAMA without robustly challenging their unfounded accusations.

Deep seated and widespread Islamophobia exists, not in the real world, but in the minds of those determined to see it as a problem. Unacceptable as racial or religious hatred is the actual problem is not real victimisation of Muslims, but the perceived victimisation of Muslims. That self-appointed Muslim leaders should press an Islamophobic narrative is understandable. The real question is why should our elites buy wholeheartedly into this narrative?

Because of the one phobia never mentioned in Parliament or on the media and yet is widespread amongst our elites in politics, the media, academia and the establishment generally – Oikophobia.

Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton, swashbuckling philosopher and scourge of all that is progressive, defines oikophobia as fear of the familiar: ‘the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours.’’ A concise description of the psychology of the West’s elites.

This is not new. In 1941 George Orwell wrote: “England is perhaps the only country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful about being an Englishman.”

Our establishment elites hold the majority of us in contempt and have a deep mistrust of what we think and value, especially Christianity, and a deeper mistrust of who we are. This is a significant factor in the growing disconnect between people and rulers.

Membership of political parties plummets. In the 1950s membership of the Conservative Party stood at approximately 2,500,000 and the Young Conservatives were said to be the largest youth organisation outside the USSR or China. In the 1950’s individual membership of the Labour Party topped 1,000,000. Today Conservative Party membership is estimated to be around 170,000 and Labour Party 187,000.

Our MPs are likely to have moved straight from school to university, to being a special adviser, with perhaps an excursion into public relations, and then selection for a seat. Selection of election candidates is no longer in the hands of local party members but under the control of central authority, like promotes like. Both Conservative and Labour parties permit the local party to choose only between candidates pre-approved by the centre.

Rulers and ruled no longer share the same culture, beliefs or attitudes. Promiscuous charges of bigotry are how our current rulers and their media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking, they expect no better from us.

You oppose the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history? Homophobia. You oppose Obama’s health care reforms? Racism. You think that if Somalis are to immigrate to the UK they should learn English? Cultural imperialism. You think the EU has too many undemocratic powers? Xenophobia, it seems that even a Scotsman can be a Little Englander.

There is a phobia which significantly impacts on the lives of every one of us, it’s called oikophobia. The big problem is that it really exists.

DESPERATELY SEEKING OFFENCE

What is it with homosexuals and bakeries, do they have a cake fetish? It is easy to get the impression that no sooner do they find a bakery run by a Christian than in they pop and request a ‘wedding’ cake for a homosexual couple, all the while longing for a refusal so that they can collapse in a miasma of hurt and rush to their lawyers and compliant media outlets. Perhaps we thought that this was just something those crazy Americans would do but, like reality TV, McDonalds and Kermit the Frog it has crossed the Atlantic, and to Belfast of all places.

Bert and Ernie Trailblzers in the Gay Confectionary Sector

Bert and Ernie
Trailblazers in the Gay Confectionary Sector

It is no closely guarded secret in Belfast that Ashers Bakery is run by committed Christians. Nevertheless, LGBT activist Gareth Lee popped in to a branch of Ashers bakery and asked for a cake featuring a picture of characters from the children’s programme Sesame Street and decorated with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’.  At present homosexual marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland and there is a vigorous political campaign to bring the province down to the same level as the rest of the UK. After talking it over the staff decided that this would go against the company’s Christian ethos, turned down the order and refunded Mr Lee his money.

Rather than pop down the road to another bakery where he could purchase a cake with a political slogan asking for the promotion of something illegal Mr Lee, in high dudgeon had recourse to the Equalities Commission who thereupon informed Ashers Bakery that they had seven days to bake the cake or face court action. Ashers stuck to their guns and now face that action.

Daniel McArthur, general manager of Ashers, said: ‘I feel if we don’t take a stand on this here case, how can we stand up against it, further down the line?’ He added that it was not the first time his company had refused cake orders: ‘In the past, we’ve declined several orders which have contained pornographic images and offensive, foul language’.

Thus we have a situation where a company is being pursued by a governmental body for refusing to promote an action at present deemed illegal by the same government.

The homosexual lobby exhibits an intolerance which is staggering in its hypocrisy. The champions of diversity are quite unable to tolerate any diversity of opinion, all must agree. If, as a matter of conscience, you don’t support their cause you must then be forced by the state to take actions which support their cause. Unfortunately organs of the state are all too willing to enforce conformity.

Andrew Muir, Northern Ireland’s first openly homosexual mayor supported the LBGT activist saying: ‘Businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve’, adding that he would be supportive of legal action against the bakery.

This is not a civil rights issue. This is not a case of a homosexual being refused access to a service because of his sexuality. If Mr Lee had wanted half a dozen Bath buns he would have been served. If the same cake had been requested by a hetrosexual it would still have been refused. Ashers declined to bake the cake because it contained political propaganda for a cause with which they profoundly disagreed.

If a Jewish baker refused to serve a Muslim customer his half dozen Bath buns because the customer was a Muslim that would be discrimination on a number of grounds. If the same Jewish baker were to refuse to supply a cake decorated with a picture of a RPG and the slogan ‘Support Hamas’ would that be discrimination?

What would happen if a Christian were to go into a bakery run by homosexuals and request a cake decorated with ‘Homosexual activity is shameful – Romans 1:27’? Most reasonable people would support the bakers if they were to refuse to provide a cake containing a message with which they profoundly disagreed. It is to be doubted, however, that the rights jihadis who are ever ready to take up the cudgels in the cause of homosexual oriented cakes would support the Christian in the demand for a biblical cake. For too many toleration is a one way street.

WHY NOT STONE JONATHAN EDWARDS?

Jonathan Edwards seems a nice guy, but why don’t we stone him to death?

Jonathan Edwards was once the most prominent sportsman in Britain. As well as being world record holder he is a former World, Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion for the hop, skip and jump, now known more prosaically as the triple jump.

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards

The son of a vicar and sharing a name with America’s greatest theologian Edwards was also at one time Britain’s most high profile Christian. Early in his career he refused to compete on Sundays, only changing his position after coming to the conclusion that God had given him his athletic talent in order for him to compete. When his athletics career ended he became a television sports presenter, also at one time fronting Songs of Praise a Sunday evening semi-religious programme on BBC television. Then in February 2007 he announced that he had lost his faith.

In religious terms Jonathan Edwards, who appears on television to be an extremely nice guy, the sort of person you could easily have a chat with, is an apostate. He has come to the conclusion that there is no God and as a consequence no longer considers himself a Christian.

Although this happened seven years ago we are still waiting for Christian leaders to call for his stoning. The archbishops of Canterbury and York have been silent on the subject. Not a peep from the General Assembly of the CofS. The Methodists and Pentecostalists are holding their collective tongues and we listen in vain for the voice of the usually reliable Baptists.

The only reaction from Christians to Jonathan Edwards’ loss of faith is a genuine sadness for him and his family, and a belated recognition of the folly of having a starstruck worldly attitude towards prominent individuals. He is still thought to be a nice guy and more worth listening to as a sports commentator than most of the semi-literate bozzos who crowd our screens.

We bring this up because a couple of days ago Owen Jones, the perpetually adolescent thirty year old journalist beloved of the Guardian, the  BBC and other nostalgic left wingers, wrote an article in the Guardian with the title ‘Why the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians’.  Whilst relieved that Jones has taken a break from trying to reproduce the British left of the 70s with its strikes, three day working week and economic collapse we have to question his analysis and motivation. The best thing about the article is the title.

Owen Jones

Owen Jones

Unfortunately Jones fails to grasp that there are certain crucial differences between Christianity and Islam. In his desire to be above the fray, like the good progressive secularist he is, he posits a moral equivalence between Christianity and Islam. Without any attempt at providing context or descriptions of the relative types of oppression he trots out the assertion of the Pew Research Centre that Christians faced oppression in 110 countries, and Muslims have suffered in 109. As far as oppression is concerned in Jones’ mind it is all equal.

We could not expect him to understand the theological differences between Christianity and Islam, but we could have expected an acknowledgement of the practical outworking of those theological differences. One religion tells us to love our enemies, the other to kill unbelievers, yet in Jones’ world both are to be considered equally.

In how many countries shaped by Christianity is there state sponsored persecution of Muslims? Are there Christian nations where, as in Saudi Arabia, it is illegal to build a church or where there are certain holy cities non-Christians are not allowed to enter? Do we have courts in the UK, USA or Canada handing down sentences of flogging on Muslims who have helped others convert from Christianity to Islam? How often have Christian mobs violently rampaged through streets of major cities threatening murder because someone has drawn a cartoon of St Paul? How often have Christian courts handed down death sentences for apostasy, as did a Sudanese court to Meriam Ibrahim who, although her father was Muslim, was herself a Christian?

Owen Jones should grasp that there is a world of difference between a Muslim in Bradford being called a nasty name and a church being attacked and the worshippers inside murdered as has happened in Egypt, Indonesia, Syria, Nigeria, Central African Republic, and too many other countries.

Just why does Owen Jones think that the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians? If he had argued that persecution is persecution, whoever is the perpetrator and whoever the victim, and as such should be opposed he would have met with general agreement. However, Jones’ stress is that unless the left speaks up about the persecution of Christians it will be left to those ‘with ulterior motives who wish to hijack misery to fuel religious hatred’, those whom he describes as ‘Muslim bashers’.

According to Jones’ reasoning the left should speak up about the persecution of Christians worldwide in order to protect Muslims from insults in the West.

Whilst being glad that there is a prominent voice amongst progressives who is willing to acknowledge that Christians are persecuted we wish he had done so from motives other than trying to make a political point against those who have been vilified by progressives for standing up for persecuted Christians.

We will have moral equivalency either when Muslims stop murdering people for disagreeing with them or when Christians call for Jonathan Edwards to be stoned to death. Both events are unlikely in our lifetimes.

THE BITER BIT

It happens so rarely that on those exceptional instances when a politician clearly says what they mean he or she should be applauded. The higher up the greasy pole a politician climbs the more the tongue is guarded for fear of giving offence. It is easy to get the impression that presidents or prime ministers consult focus groups before ordering breakfast and if they ask for muesli will almost immediately issue an apology to, ‘all those hardworking people who begin the day with cornflakes’.

Many thought that the end of WWII put the nail into the coffin of anti-Semitism. We were mistaken. There has been an alarming rise of anti-Semitic attacks in countries across Europe. These range from verbal abuse all the way up to the murder last month of three Jewish people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by a Kalachnikov toting jihadist.

jewish-cemetery

Political leaders say they are aware of the problem of anti-Semitism and are determined to act. In November, French President François Hollande said that ‘the struggle against anti-Semitism is a top priority’. Angela Merkel used the same words a few weeks later in Germany. In the beginning of December, after a spike in verbal and physical anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, David Cameron said that he wanted to ‘tackle anti-Semitism head on’.

Little, however, has actually been done to confront the core of the issue. The reason most politicians limit themselves to platitudes about this appalling situation is fear of giving offence to those who uphold the source of these attacks. It is generally accepted, but rarely stated, that the rise in such attacks in Europe is largely due to the rise of Islam in Europe.

Milos Zeman President of the Czech Republic

Milos Zeman
President of the Czech Republic

Czech president Milos Zeman, however, is made of sterner stuff. He went to the heart of the matter and confronted the source of much of today’s European anti-Semitism, the teaching of the Koran. ‘I am not reassured by the claims that this is the work of only a small fringe group. Quite the contrary. I believe that xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism stems from the essential ideology that these fanatical groups are based on.’

‘And let me provide a proof of this assertion in a quote from one of its sacred texts. “The Jews will hide behind stones and trees. Then the tree will call out, ‘A Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.’ The stone will call out, ‘A Jew hides behind me, come and kill him.”’

Naturally this aroused a howl of protest and demands for a retraction and an apology. Iyad Madani, Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, was quickly off the mark. Madani labelled the Czech president ‘Islamophobic’ and said that ‘Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance’. Perhaps he was under the impression that current events in Nigeria, Iraq, Kenya and numerous other countries had been perpetrated by rogue Quakers.

Madani who makes such an impassioned claim of tolerance is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a country where no churches or synagogues may be built and where non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mecca. A 2010-2011 textbook on Islamic Studies issued by the Saudi Ministry of Education states: ‘They are the people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned into swine to punish them. As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the keepers of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus.’

The OIC press release continued, ‘It is only appropriate that President Milōs Zeman apologizes to the millions of Muslims worldwide for his deeply offensive and hateful anti Islam statements’.

President Zeman is clearly a politician of a different stamp. Instead of making an apology his spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček issued a statement saying:‘President Zeman definitely does not intend to apologise. For the president would consider it blasphemy to apologise for the quotation of a sacred Islamic text.’

A GUCCI LOAFER STAMPING

 

It doesn’t matter who you are, rich or poor, prominent or unknown, believer or unbeliever, from the highest to the lowest total conformity to the mores of our cultural elite will be rigidly enforced, whatever the cost to the individuals involved. Shortly after Grain went off line last month Brendan Eich was forced from his job. Last week Sarah Mbuyi met the same fate. Refusal to celebrate homosexual marriage is tantamount to social ostracism if not an open door to the unemployment line or even arrest.

Brendan Eich

Brendan Eich

Brendan Eich, inventor of Javascript and co-founder of Mozilla, was forced from his post as CEO of the company because back in 2008 he gave a small donation to a California referendum campaign against homosexual marriage. Eich was ‘outed’ and forced from the company he helped create.

Eich did not discriminate against homosexuals either in his social circles or in the employment practices of his company. His crime was that nearly six years ago he held the view that marriage was an institution created solely for two people of opposite sexes. This is the view held at the same time by Barack Obama. That a values free politician could see that was where the votes were we may assume that many Americans held the same view. Nevertheless in today’s intolerant world Eich had to go.

This hounding of Eich is no aberration, the action of a few vindictive fanatics or an overzealous Twitter mob, it is the logical extension of what has been an intolerant movement from its inception. Coercion, either through legislation or media and cultural pressure, has been the tactic of our successful social revolutionaries.

Sarah Myubi

Sarah Myubi

Sarah Mbuyi was a nursery worker with Newpark Child Care in London until last week. In September a lesbian became a co-worker and the two quickly established a friendly working relationship. The other woman claimed to be very interested in Myubi’s Christian beliefs and so Myubi gave her a Bible.

During conversations the woman claimed to have been discriminated against by Christians because of her sexuality and said that she thought that God condoned same sex marriage. Although the legislation approving same sex marriage was only two months away the woman claimed to be unhappy that she was unable to marry her partner.

At no time did Mbuyi force her biblical views on the other woman but when asked directly what she believed Myubi said that the Bible taught that homosexual sex (not homosexuals themselves) was wrong. The woman immediately reported Myubi to their employers and at the disciplinary hearing her employers accused Myubi of harassing the other woman. Sarah Myubi was dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’.

At a time when the Prime Minister is proclaiming that Great Britain is a Christian nation and that Christians should be more open about our faith we find that a Christian who supports the teaching of the Bible is sacked for opposition to David Cameron’s signature legislation of same sex marriage.

Daring to express biblical morality in the workplace is fast becoming a prohibited activity. The homosexual lobby not only demands tolerance of its ideals but their active affirmation by everyone. Opponents of homosexual marriage are viewed as ideological enemies to be crushed by whatever means available.

Homosexual marriage has little to do with toleration, diversity or supposed equal rights. It is a means to an end and has become the lead mechanism through which society can be changed. Through homosexual marriage our post-traditional elites can demonstrate their contempt for old fashioned values such as family life, privacy, commitment and self discipline. Old values of community and steadiness are consigned to the dustbin and new values of individualism and constant change enforced.

The campaign for homosexual marriage, which shall continue until such marriages are celebrated in church, is not really about homosexuality, it is about destroying old moral values and imposing new ones. This is why opposition to homosexual marriage must be eradicated. We who affirm traditional marriage are not simply people who have a differing view, we are not just ‘wrong’, we are ideological enemies who are standing against a much wider project and as such must be silenced.

The coercive power of the state is liberally employed to this end. We find street preachers in Britain being arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin. In Sweden Aake Green a Pentecostal pastor was sentenced to one month in prison for the same crime, thankfully Green was acquitted on appeal. In France baton wielding police employed tear gas to attack protestors marching against homosexual marriage. Those wearing T-shirts featuring a man a woman and a child were cautioned against organising an unauthorised protest.

The ‘straight’ are not only those who uphold marriage we tend to be those who hold to a straight culture and straight values. We can even be described as straight-laced, which is anathema to the trendy elite. When we straights refuse to acknowledge homosexual marriage we are not just refusing a social construct we are refusing the new moral framework being demanded by our elites. We are moral heretics whose deviant views are dangerous.

Over half a century ago George Orwell wrote, ‘If you want a vision of the future imagine a boot stamping on a face – forever’. It may be a tasseled Gucci loafer instead of a jack boot, but it is stamping.

Gucci loafers

 

 

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Everyone wants it. Obama and the Pope agree on little, but both want it. Big businesses proclaim their commitment to it, trade unions agitate for it. Hapless Francoise Hollande, embarrassed by last week’s French elections, claimed his humiliation was in part due to, ‘Not enough social justice’. Everybody from the Marxist SWP to the fascist BNP wants social justice.

Justice Calm

Even the dear old Church of Scotland wants it. Eager to jump on any passing bandwagon, the CofS declares concerning the coming referendum that it, ‘has welcomed the debate but insists that any constitutional change must bring about social justice benefits’.

Demands for social justice are especially appealing to Christians as God commands us to act justly. But is social justice the same thing as God’s justice?

Those demanding social justice all want different things. Depending on the source it can mean same sex marriage, women’s rights, income inequality, ‘British jobs for British workers’, child welfare, gender neutral toilets, abortion on demand, free school lunches, the list goes on. Social justice is one of those terms which actually means nothing because it can mean anything.

Ultimately it boils down to the adult version of the playground cry of ‘It’s not fair’, usually accompanied by the stamping of little feet. Social justice is little more than code, a campaign slogan churned out by the organisational publicity machine to elicit a favourable response from the public. After all, who could possibly be against fairness and social justice?

justice
The 19th century anarchist thinker Proudhon drew a distinction between transcendental and immanent justice. He saw transcendental justice as ‘external, objective pressure exerted on the self’, an immutable external code. Immanent Justice on the other hand was based on human conscience,  an imminent law inherent in the soul. For Proudhon immanent justice differs from the Christian concept in as much as it is purely human, more apparent as a feeling or emotion rather than as a fixed standard.

Proudhon’s concept of emotion based immanent justice has been adopted and rebranded by today’s more media savvy proponents as social justice. So successful is this that the UN can declare, ‘‘Present day believers in an absolute truth identified with virtue and justice are neither willing nor desirable companions for the defenders of social justice.’ Social Justice in an Open World (2006).

Thus if you believe truth and justice are absolute concepts independent of the wants and desires of whoever holds sway in society you are an opponent of social justice. Christians who identify justice as being in accord with the standards of virtue we find in the Bible as emanating from God are not even considered desirable companions on the journey towards social justice. At least the UN has a clearer idea of the ultimate issues involved than most churches.

Social justice can be unjust, being devoid of any absolute standard its deamnds for fairness too easily end in unfairness. We have gradually come to see the concepts of fairness and justice as coterminous. Yet justice to be just is blind, all must be treated equally; fairness to be fair is partial, one group has to be favoured over another.

Affirmative action is socially just but inherently unfair. Political parties, because of past unfairness, operate quotas when selecting candidates. In the case of all woman short lists this may be fair to women. But by being partial it is also unfair to those men who might wish to contest the seat, as it is to the entire electorate who do not get to choose between the best candidates, only the perceived appropriate ones. Social justice is imminent justice and without an absolute standard of justice we find fairness gradually slipping into injustice.

Perhaps the biggest problem with social justice is that the demand for social justice decreases compassion.

Cries for social justice always work from the assumption that the right people, the anointed few, can simply impose fairness, prosperity and any other good thing you can dream up. And the only institution capable of imposing social justice is the state. The greater the cries for social justice for the disadvantaged the greater the power accrued by the already powerful and the decrease of personal involvement.

In the Bible justice is about caring for the vulnerable because this reflects the character of God. It invariably involves right relationships. More than three dozen times the OT brings together mishpat or justice, meaning punishing wrongdoers and caring for the victims of unjust treatment, and tzadeqah or righteousness, the way we live before God. God’s justice demands personal involvement, it is not a matter of demanding that the powers that be do something about it, God’s justice demands that we do something about it.

One of God’s most off the wall decisions was to use us as His instruments of justice. Micah 6:8 says: ‘He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ We are God’s plan for doing justice in His world, and He hasn’t revealed a Plan B.

Too reliant on government due to the atomisation of society, family and church are no longer the hubs of the community, localism is to a significant extent dead. There is an expectation that the state will provide the aid and support once supplied by family and church. As individuals and a society we have outsourced compassion and given it politicians and social work departments.

In a situation where the support mechanisms within society have broken down, as they largely have, the state steps in to supply what is required. The more they do this however, the more society’s support mechanisms are weakened and the more the state needs to do. The state is an institution, as such it can only take and dispense, it cannot love.

God’s just requirement is that we love our neighbour, especially our vulnerable neighbour. No one pays taxes out of love.

 

TONY BENN

The doctrine of common grace assures us that it is impossible to be 100% wrong about everything. Give him his due the late Tony Benn did his best to overcome common grace.

Tony Benn

Tony Benn

Beginning as a technocratic moderniser in the Wilson government’s effort to forge a new Britain in the ‘white heat of technology.’ Benn championed Concorde, the Post Office Tower and British Leyland. The future was rosy, until it all went pear shaped as it became evident that his innovations were all too often white elephants.

For someone who came from a political family, his father Viscount Stansgate had been a Liberal then a Labour MP, Benn consistently misread politics with an aplomb which was breathtaking. As he got older this became ever more pronounced. As Harold Wilson remarked, Tony ‘immatures with age.’ Even when at the height of his political career insiders knew Tony Benn couldn’t be trusted. In the early 70′s Henry Drucker in a lecture at Edinburgh University claimed that even the Labour Party would never elect a raving lunatic with ‘revolving eyeballs’ as leader.

Yet the political landscape in Britain altered so much that in 1981 Tony Benn came to within a hairsbreadth 0.8% of beating Dennis Healey for the job of deputy leader. Benn became a standard bearer for the hard left in the Labour Party and helped create the conditions which tore the Labour Party apart and saw the birth of the breakaway SDP.

Michael Foot, whose leadership Benn consistently undermined, was of the opinion that Benn ‘was not to be trusted.’ Benn’s one lasting legacy will be his voluminous diaries which record in detail the political events of the day and his part in them. In contrast the diaries of his contemporaries reveal a blundering operator who throughout his career was profoundly distrusted by his colleagues, Benn was seen as the loose cannon who could sink any ship.

Benn’s charge to the left helped ensure the victories of Margaret Thatcher. He vociferously supported president-for-life Arthur Scargill of the NMU as Scargill aided Margaret Thatcher in the destruction of the British coal industry. All the while Benn conveniently ignored the fact that he had been a member of the Wilson government which had closed more mines than Thatcher ever did.

Probably Benn’s greatest talent was not his much praised oratory but his ability to denounce his rivals in the Labour Party. Always willing to organise back bench rebellions when he was outvoted in Cabinet Benn, the man of principle, never actually went so far as to resign on principle.

Heavily influenced by Christian socialism Benn saw himself as a prophet ever ready to challenge the kings. During his Desert Island Discs interview, he asked to take to the imaginary island two books he had never read in their entirety: The Bible and Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. “Those two books – the moral teaching and the political analysis – are the two great influences, whether we know it or not, in our century.”

Mr Benn

Mr Benn

Benn was brought up an idealist by his feminist theologian mother and in later life became a romantic, a left wing Don Quixote ever ready to tilt at windmills for some lost cause. Eventually he resembled nothing more than the cartoon character Mr Benn the suburban commuter who would enter a fancy dress shop, purchase a costume and exit through a back door into a fantasy land where he would be a cowboy, pirate, astronaut, cook, caveman, whatever adventure was appropriate to the costume he was wearing that day.

Today eulogies for someone who appears a genuinely likeable man on a personal level abound. His wild schemes forgotten, his perpetual feuding fading from memory we remember the devoted family man who saw himself as a prophet for his age. Benn’s final reinvention late in life as an avuncular national treasure, pipe smoking, tea drinking elderly relative dispensing dollops of left wing wisdom clouds us to the fact that, amusing as he was in his latter years his policies were resoundingly rejected by the British people in successive general elections and did more harm to the Labour Party which he loved than the Tories ever managed.